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Emanuele Pirro

12th January 1962 (Age 58)
Rome, Lazio
Most recent race (in database):

This pleasant Roman was part of the Audi juggernaut that dominated sports car racing during the 2000s. Five times a winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours and twice American Le Mans Series Champion are the achievements that define his career.

Early racing career

National champion in karting, Emanuele Pirro started his career as a single-seater hot shoe. He won the 1980 Fiat Abarth Championship in his first season out of karts before spending the next three seasons in European Formula 3. Winner of the final European F3 race of 1981 with a Scuderia Torino Corse Martini MK34-Toyota, the novice also made his sports car debut that year – winning his class and finishing fifth overall in the Daytona 24 Hours when driving a works Lancia Beta Monte Carlo.

Pirro was disappointed to be runner-up in the 1982 European F3 Championship when only beaten by his Euroracing-Alfa Romeo team-mate Oscar Larrauri. Due to remain with Euroracing for his third season in the category, he was left without a drive when the team suddenly decided to switch to Formula 1. A hastily arranged season in MC Motorsport’s Ralt RT3-Alfa Romeo was rewarded with victory in the opening two rounds but Pirro – who survived rolling at La Châtre – eventually faded to third in the final standings.

Nearly man of Formula 2 and F3000

He graduated to European Formula 2 for its final season in 1984 driving Onyx Racing Engineering’s semi-works March 842-BMW. Second place at Donington Park was his best result as Pirro finished sixth in the championship. He remained with Mike Earle’s team for the new Formula 3000 and Pirro’s March 85B-Cosworth won two of the first four races of that 1985 inaugural campaign as he showed all of his polished racecraft.

Third in the championship, he tested for Brabham but it was another season of F3000 in 1986 – again with an Onyx March-Cosworth. He won on the Le Mans Bugatti circuit but again finished third overall when beaten by compatriots Ivan Capelli and Pierluigi Martini.

Frustrating time in Formula 1

Plying his trade in Japan’s F3000 series for the next two seasons and McLaren’s test driver from 1988, Pirro’s F1 race debut finally came in the 1989 French Grand Prix. Benetton’s Johnny Herbert was still not sufficiently recovered from injuries sustained in the previous autumn’s Brands Hatch F3000 race and Pirro was drafted in as his replacement. The tall Italian was running fourth in Spain when he spun and he finished fifth in Australia at the end of a disappointing half season.

Replaced by Nelson Piquet for 1990, he moved to BMS Scuderia Italia instead and spent two seasons driving its Dallaras. Ninth on the grid for the 1990 Monaco GP, he stalled on the dummy grid and failed to start the race. Lacklustre thereafter, his sixth place finish in the principality a year later was his only points score with the Italian team although he did qualify a career-best seventh in Hungary.

Success in sports cars

However, his F1 career was over but Pirro found success in touring cars. Twice a winner of Macau’s Guia race for BMW, he was national champion in Italy and Germany when driving for Audi. All this was a mere prelude to his sports car career for the German manufacturer.

An original member of the team as Audi developed its new R8 sports car, Pirro combined with Tom Kristensen and Frank Biela to win both the Sebring 12 Hours and Le Mans 24 Hours in 2000. Although Kristensen stole most of the headlines due to his record nine victories in the French race, Pirro and Biela shared the winning car with the Dane for three years in a row.

Biela was Pirro’s regular co-driver for six seasons and that association delivered ALMS titles for Pirro in 2001 (on his own) and 2005 when shared with the German. They also won at Le Mans in 2006 and 2007 when joined by Marco Werner. Pirro left Audi at the end of 2008 as the economic recession forced it to review its racing programme and he has since retired from the sport.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2011 Australian V8 Supercar Championship 70th 114
2008 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport North America
1 0 1 1 0
2007 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport North America
1 0 1 1 0
2006 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport North America
2 1 2 2 0
2005 American Le Mans Series
Champion Racing
4 0 4 4 1st 0
2004 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Audi Sport Team Joest
10 0 0 0
0% win rate
11th 11
2002 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport Team Joest
Audi Sport North America
3 0 3 3 0
2001 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport Team Joest
3 0 3 3 1st 30
2000 American Le Mans Series
Audi Sport North America
3 1 3 3 0
1996 German Super Touring Car Championship 1st -
1995 Italian SuperTurismo Championship 1st -
1994 Italian SuperTurismo Championship 1st -
1992 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Team Bigazzi
24 0 4 0
0% win rate
12th 84
1991 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Italia
13 (3) 0 0 0
0% win rate
18th 1
1990 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
BMW Team Schnitzer
4 0 2 1
25% win rate
15th 36
1990 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Italia
14 0 0 0
0% win rate
1989 F1 World Championship
Benetton Formula
10 0 0 0
0% win rate
23rd 2
1989 All-Japan F3000 Championship 6th 11
1988 All-Japan F3000 Championship 3rd 25 (27)
1987 World Touring Car Championship
Schnitzer Motorsport
BMW Motorsport
11 1 6 1
10% win rate
4th 244
1986 European Touring Car Championship
Schnitzer Motorsport
2 0 2 2 58
1986 FIA International F3000 Championship
Onyx Race Engineering
11 3 5 1
10% win rate
3rd 29
1985 FIA European F3000 Championship
Onyx Race Engineering
11 1 4 2
19% win rate
3rd 38
1985 World Endurance Championship
Le Mans Company
1 0 1 0 0
1984 European F2 Championship
Onyx Race Engineering
11 0 1 0
0% win rate
6th 18
1983 European F3 Championship
MC Motorsport
15 2 8 2
14% win rate
3rd 52
1982 European F3 Championship
14 (1) 2 7 3
22% win rate
2nd 62
1981 European F3 Championship
Scuderia Torino Corse
15 1 2 1
7% win rate
6th 19
1981 Italian F3 Championship 9th 15
1981 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
Jolly Club
2 0 0 0 132nd 18